Junior doctors organise protest in Leeds over new contract

‘This is an assault on the future of the NHS’

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Junior Doctors and medical students from across Yorkshire are coming together in Leeds to protest.

A march has been organised on Facebook against the Government’s new contract changes, which they say will put patient safety at risk.

The event already has over 1,200 Facebook attendees and will take place on October 28th in Leeds city centre.

The new contract proposed by the government changes the definition of “social” working hours from 7am-7pm Monday to Friday as it currently stands, to 7am-10pm Monday to Saturday.

The contract will leave some junior doctors, particularly those working in acute specialties like A&E and anaesthetics, with a pay cut of up to 30 per cent.

Doctors will also now be unable to retrain into different specialties without taking significant pay cuts, regardless of prior medical experience.

Doctors argue the contract can be easily manipulated, forcing junior doctors to work more antisocial hours.

They also say it will turn people away from specialities such as General Practice and A&E where there are already huge shortages of doctors.

There are warnings that the contract will compromise patient safety by overworking doctors, and there is huge support from the medical profession and the public to stand up against the proposed changes.

One of the organisers of the protest, Junior Doctor Phil Atkinson, told the Tab: “This is an assault on the future of the NHS.

“My main concern is patient safety – current safeguards that prevent employers imposing unsafe excessive working hours are being removed.

“That risks overworked, overtired doctors treating people and making mistakes. I don’t want exhausted doctors treating me or my family, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like that.”

An online petition with over 70,000 signatures calling for the contract proposal to be revoked

Phil added: “Junior doctors include anyone up to the level of a consultant. They include doctors in their late thirties or early forties who have been practising medicine for more than a decade.

“These people have mortgages and families to support – suddenly cutting their pay will cause them real financial problems. Doctors in this position will consider moving to work overseas, further worsening our current staffing crisis.

“If the government does this to doctors I would be very concerned that other healthcare professionals and emergency services will be next.”

“We need to focus our efforts to raise awareness not with other doctors, but with patients and the wider public.

“We hope it will also continue to send the clear message to the Department of Health that the medical profession are united on this issue and will fight to protect their patients.”